Early Screener Review: Jurassic City (2015)


A truckload of secret experimented raptors is rerouted to a nearby prison where they escape and it's up to the security guards, a group of sorority sisters in the drunk tank for the night, and a few inmates to stop these creatures from escaping out into the city.

REVIEW: Jurassic City (previously named Jurassic Lockdown and Jurassic Block) was one of those movies I paid close attention to during production, simply because it had dinosaurs in it and I'm always hankering for a new good dinosaur B-Movie, since dinosaurs are pretty much my favourite thing ever and dinosaur B-Movies are my favourite type of B-Movie.

Unfortunately, to my disappointment, Jurassic City is not that new good dinosaur B-Movie I was hoping for. Not even close.


That's not to say there's nothing positive here, because there is quite a few aspects of it that I did enjoy. The overall plot itself, of a pack of raptors loose in a prison is a pretty interesting one, and the prison setting and layout was used to great effect. Many movies pride themselves on taking place in a unique setting but then they end up doing nothing unique with that setting so it essentially could take place anywhere, but this one actually makes great use with the prison setting, incorporating many aspects that can only be done in a prison. One scene in particular comes to mind where they have to try to use a pay phone, but travel from their block to that one in such a way that the raptors can't get to them, and they never have to run too far to escape the raptors' clutches because there's always prison doors around just about every corner that they can lock behind them, leaving the raptors stuck to find other ways to get in to them. Actually, the movie has a few 'fun' scenes like those that I found myself enjoying quite a bit, such as one where a raptor loose in the city attacks a couple teens out for a swim in their backyard pool or when they first break out of their transport van and attack the soldiers guarding them, to list just a couple more of them.

And while Vernon Wells and Ray Wise don't really have much to do other than stand around their respective offices and talk to other characters, both of them own their roles quite well and were the highlights of this movie, acting-wise, with Jack Forcinito playing his part pretty well of looking bad ass while hunting down dinosaurs (though admittedly not really a role that requires much range).

Unfortunately though, that's about all I enjoyed. While Vernon Wells, Ray Wise, and Jack Forcinito were all enjoyable to watch in their limited capacities, most everyone else in this movie was just downright terrible. Perhaps a few line deliveries or moments here and there were good, but on a whole I was not impressed at all, and a couple characters were just painful to have to watch, reminding me of some of the worst character-related aspects of Raptor Ranch, aka The Dinosaur Experiment. Though it's not like any of the characters were made out to be likeable or relatable anyway, nor it's not like the dialogue they had to work with from the script gave them much choice either. There were far too many moments where conversations didn't even seem to make much sense, as if they switched from one conversation to a completely different one, mid-convo without any sort of hint that they were going to and a couple times I even found myself wondering out loud 'Just what the hell are they even talking about here?'. It also doesn't help that some characters motives aren’t fleshed out at all, like in the instance of Vernon Wells' character; So let me get this straight, his entire master plan was to go through the trouble and money and research in bringing dinosaurs back to life, to purposely set them loose, in order to come in, kill them all, save the day, and appear to be a hero? If he wanted to give the illusion of being a fake hero, I'm sure there would have been much easier ways to go about it than bringing dinosaurs back to life, just to kill them. And the prison attack was supposed to be some kind of test run, but he doesn't even wait for it to be over before launching his actual plan, so again, much of this movie on a script level, from the dialogue to character motivations, to the plot itself, just left me scratching my head.


But hey, nobody watches a dinosaur B-Movie for the acting or dialogue anyway, so what about the dinosaurs themselves? While it's true there were a handful of fun scenes dealing with them, that in theory had the potential to be great, it's mostly all undone by the fact that these CGI dinosaurs are among the worst CGI I've seen in a B-Movie in a long time. As someone that watches just about every SyFy Channel Original Movie and Asylum-made mockbuster, even I found the effects here to be nothing short of dreadful, and pretty much totally took me out of the movie every single time they were on-screen. What really surprises me with this though is that Asylum-regular Joseph Lawson did the special effects for this one, and usually his work is far and above the level that it is here. I always look forward to Asylum movies more when I notice he's doing the effects for them cause they always turn out to be the best the company has done, on a visual effects level, each and every time, so I was actually outright shocked when I looked on IMDB and saw he did them for this movie, after having seen just how terrible they were here. The sole exception to this is one very quick scene toward the end where the soldiers hunting the escaped raptor through the city end up getting caught in an unexpected stampede of escaped raptors, and admittedly that scene actually looked pretty cool and a touch creepy.

I hope you aren’t expecting a lot of those kinds of scenes though, because everything about this movie’s title and cover art is simply false advertising. The city scenes take up about 5 minutes of movie time, spread out over two or three short scenes throughout the entire movie, most of which is just soldiers hunting for an escaped raptor, and just when we think we might actually finally be getting to the meat of the advertised movie when all sorts of dinosaurs start running amok and causing chaos in the city...the movie ends. It literally ends with the dinosaurs escaping and starting to run through the city, right as we're getting to what we really want to see, and on top of that it ends without any sort of conclusion or wrap-up to anything, as if this was simply an over-long prologue to a much larger story. And for any T. Rex fans out there, I feel bad for you. Despite having a Rex front and center on the poster art, they're in the movie long enough to be seen (badly rendered at that) walking down a street while one of the characters drives by. That's it.


Jurassic City was one of those movies I had been anxiously waiting for that, unfortunately, didn't even come close to living up to those expectations. The false advertising of the cover art and title itself certainly doesn't help, and probably would have been better off sticking with one of it's original titles, Jurassic Block or Jurassic Lockdown as they would have been far more accurate and, quite honestly there was nothing wrong with either of those titles to begin with so I have no idea why it was even changed, other than to blatantly capitalize on the upcoming release of Jurassic World.

Of course it would take more than a title change to save this movie, since most of the acting was meh, special effects painful, and just about everything on a script level abysmal. Any one of these things on their own probably wouldn't even bother me too much, but it's the combination of all of them together that made for this being a pretty hard-to-sit-through viewing. Even as a B-Movie fan, I would recommend just skipping this one as the few entertaining scenes and overall interesting idea of raptors loose in a prison just aren't enough to make up for all that's done wrong. There's other better recent dinosaur B-Movies out there like Age of Dinosaurs, Jurassic Attack (Rise of the Dinosaurs), and The Dinosaur Project that are more worth the time to watch them than this one was.

3/10 rooms in the Psych Ward



Comments

  1. Nice review! I did not realize Mr. Lawson did the effects here. Crazy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I didn't realize either until I checked imdb.

      Delete
  2. I know I am about a year late, but I wanted to say that those weren't raptors but Monolophosaurus.

    http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/m/monolophosaurus.html

    An interesting and obscure choice for a dinosaur, but probably only chosen because a free stock model exists for it on the internet so nobody had to pay to hire a professional modeller.

    ReplyDelete
  3. http://www.daz3d.com/monolophosaurusdr

    Found it. 16 bucks.

    ReplyDelete

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